Rally Director and Event Organiser
Peter bought his first car, a Ford Anglia when still at school studying for his A levels. A decision made in his early teens to get a licence as soon as he was able and then to buy a car on passing his test meant that Saturdays and summer holidays were spent doing odd jobs to raise the necessary cash. Peter’s father had access to a private road so the basics of car control were learnt on his dad’s big Wolseley before the inevitable first journey on a public road.
The Anglia served him well, and on attending University Peter immediately joined the motor club and started on what has lead to his present involvement with HERO. The University Motor club organised what were loosely referred to as “night navigation exercises”, a euphemism for a twelve car event (although the organisers always seemed to have difficulty counting past twelve!). Not really understanding at that time the way in which events were authorised, it was a few years before Peter realised that he had actually been competing on Road Events before entering his first formal road rally.
It was during his first year at University that Peter met Lynn, a geography student. Peter soon discovered that geography students had one major advantage, they could read O.S maps, and so Lynn was persuaded to navigate on one of these so-called twelve car events (which they won!). During his early days Peter competed in various vehicles including the Anglia, a Mark One Cortina and Sunbeam Stiletto for which he developed a soft spot. He still has his competition engine and is seriously thinking of purchasing another Stiletto, so if anyone out there knows of one for sale please let him know.
Peter got involved in organising events, starting as a marshal, and working his way up to Clerk of the Course. On leaving university he joined Port Talbot Motor Club, a strong and successful club. He was asked to take over the running of the Red Dragon Rally, a well known road rally in the 1970’s, and stayed at the helm for almost ten years. His involvement with the club lead to his appointment as chairman, a post that he occupied for eight years.
Peter got involved with other events organised by the club, including a National Championship Stage event (known for many years as The Kayel Graphics) and sat on the ANCRO committee (the Association of National Championship Rally Organisers). His first involvement in classic rallying was on the Edmunds Classic, one of the first competitive classic events to be held in Wales.
Whilst preferring to drive, Peter has competed in both the driver and co-driver seats (being once referred to by a dedicated navigator as one of those rarest of breeds “a driver who could actually read a map!” - Peter was never sure if that was meant to be a compliment!). His competing on classic events has always been with the intention of having fun, entering in a variety of vehicles from a 1908 Willys Overlander to a 1951 Wolseley police car, complete with bell. Some events in the police car being done dressed as convicts on the run or in period police uniform (stories of his exploits in the police car are best told at the bar after a day of hard competition).
Peter’s involvement with HERO started when he was asked to drive one of the closing cars on Le Jog, a task he thoroughly enjoyed and says he will miss now that he needs to be nearer the front of the events. Peter has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and works as a consultant in the field of high level vehicle security. He has a son and daughter, who are interested in motorsport and may sometimes be seen helping on HERO events. Work commitments have meant that he has not competed for a few years, but Peter is developing itchy feet and he and John Surridge (another HERO stalwart, who has done a few events with Peter) have recently been overheard talking about competing again – for fun of course! In the mid seventies Peter competed on road events and the occasional autotest in a Sumbeam Stiletto, and has recently purchased a "garage find" ripe for restoration.
John started his rallying career in late ’59 whilst at the RAF College Cranwell and was soon involved both as a competitor (driving mainly, but navigating also on occasions) and event organiser.
His successes behind the wheel were limited by the constraints of being a serving officer, but his all-round abilities were obviously recognised as John Hopwood had already invited him to join Ecurie Cod Fillet before he was posted to Cyprus in ’62.
Whilst on tour there, he was instrumental in laying the groundwork for what was to develop into the Rally of Cyprus.
John counts himself fortunate to have been rallying alongside some of the very best, including Eric Carlsson – they both rallied the amazing Saab 96 2-stroke.
Also on his list of favourite cars was the Riley 1.5.
All rallyists from that era have a fount of wonderful stories of the way it used to be;
one of John’s favourites is where his navigator found a shortcut that took them over a narrow bridge, which was OK until they found the council had taken the span away and forgotten to put road closure notices on the approach.
Fifteen foot nose down into the water meant another win was out of the question!
His big regret was not being able to get leave to drive on the 1968 London-Sydney event.
Competition aside, John was probably responsible for setting up the first radio network used on the Lombard RAC in 1971 – access to RAF stores proved very useful!
It was in the era of the Motoring News events that John first came across John Brown, but it was not until the early days of LE JOG that the contact was re-established.
John then became HERO Chief Marshal immediately following the first Classic Malts in 1998 and his involvement has since grown.
Under the leadership of Peter Nedin, John has taken on the mantle of Deputy Clerk of the Course and is responsible for route work on the Malts, LE JOG and the new Summer Trial.
John’s forte is mapwork; he has the ability to glance at a section and see immediately what sort of navigation exercise to set competitors in order to give them a challenge.
Add to that his attention to detail and you have an organiser described equally as devious and brilliant (depending on whether you plotted it right or not)!
Founder of HERO and originator of LE JOG
John was once famously described by the Daily Telegraph as "motoring's answer to the Marquis de Sade". The credit arises from his invention of the toughest event in the British historic rally calendar, LE JOG (the Land's End to John O’Groats Reliability Trial), which ran for the first time in 1993.
John's first rally experience came aged 20 in 1959, in a Triumph TR2. He won his first national rally 18 months later while still an Oxford undergraduate. At the same time, he took over the University motor club's Targa Rusticana (which he revised some years later as an historic event). On graduating with a modern languages degree, he followed in Stuart Turner's footsteps as both Verglas (rally editor) at Motoring News and as co-driver to Erik Carlsson's Saab on the 1961 RAC Rally. Despite John's inexperience at this level - at 22 years and 8 months, he was, and still is, the youngest person to win the event - Erik notched up the second win of his famous hat-trick. During John’s career he has competed with many well known names including Russell Brookes & Colin Malkin.
As an organiser, he invented the Targa Timing system which became the British standard, introduced selective sections to the UK, organised the first all-special-stage Manx Rally, helped found the great Gulf London rally, and sat on the Montagu Committee whose report formed the basis of the Government's regulations for rallies.
In 2004 John decided that he wanted to concentrate on the long distance 4 x 4 “adventure” events and announced that he would retire from competitive organisation and would look for someone to take over the organisation and promotion of all Classic Reliability Trials and Tours promoted by HERO.